A great adventure has just concluded for me and our hard-working team. To everyone’s surprise, last year’s Pastors’ Conference in St. Louis bestowed on us an honor and privilege I did not believe the pastor of an average-sized church in Iowa would ever receive.
When we were elected and given the responsibility to put on the Pastors’ Conference in Phoenix this year, there were several challenges.
First, we had to raise an amount of money larger than the annual budget of any of our churches – a daunting task. We determined that we would put on a conference “for the pastors, by the pastors.” Our goal was to bless the rank and file, average pastors who are the backbone of the Southern Baptist Convention. We did our best to accomplish that.
But, we determined to engage one more challenge. From the start, I was told that attendance in Phoenix would be awful. We took the challenge of getting as many pastors there as we could. The end result of that was a scholarship program (led by my team – I had little to do with it personally) that ended up giving $1,000 to each of 62 different churches so they could send their pastors to the Pastors’ Conference and the SBC annual meeting. Keith Getty, who led our music, asked me how many we hoped to have at the Pastors’ Conference. I told him we had no idea, but that if we had 2,000 on Sunday night it would be a hallelujah moment.
A parliamentarian who was present estimated the crowd on Sunday night to be over 3,500. Attendance fluctuates wildly during the sessions and only the Monday evening session may have topped that number, but we were blown away by the attendance and the encouraging response.
I am writing to express my thanks to the editor and to the people of North Carolina.
The Biblical Recorder was a great support to us all year with your published articles and especially your support for our scholarship effort.
North Carolina Baptists responded with generosity that blessed us and many others. In fact, we gave out 60 scholarships and intended to stop there, but late gifts – mostly from North Carolina – allowed us to add two more.
I am grateful for the Biblical Recorder, the North Carolina Baptist Foundation and for the generous people of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina for all they did in helping us with our efforts this year. Thanks to all of you from all of us!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dave Miller, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, served as president of the 2017 SBC Pastors’ Conference.)